Christopher Bordenave founded No)one. Art House in 2014 to “promote and produce quality interdisciplinary art such as dance, film, and photography throughout the greater Los Angeles area”. He has collaborated with numerous artists, the latest being Danielle Russo. Russo is a choreographer and performer based in New York City. Her choreography has been presented nationally at the American Dance Festival, Jacob’s Pillow and The Yard; and internationally in Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Mexico, Panama, South Korea, Spain and Sweden.
The work presented by No)one. Art House was titled Chiasm. Or, the body of two faces and performed to a collage of electronic music. According to Russo it is about the “Self” that is, according to Kohut’s Self Theory, the Self is divided into four distinct parts: the Nuclear, the Virtual, the Cohesive and the Grandiose. Russo goes on to say that she is also interested in exploring the “Self” from the idol to the martyr and that she “tussles with infatuation, addiction, amplification, augmentation and denial of self.
Although the evening was a very interesting form of performance art that reminded me of performances that I’ve seen in New York during the 1970s; without reading the above posted information one might come away with a series of beautiful and mysterious images that rarely felt completed or connected. It felt like walking through room after room of an art gallery where each room had works by artists from different eras and unrelated mediums. One brief example of this is when performer Charissa Kroeger is lying on the floor and another dancer brings out a small panel of grass and places it between her legs. Kroeger then moves it slightly and places her feet in the grass. She soon gets up and carries the grass out of the performing area. That was the total use of the grass. It was not connected to what was taking place elsewhere; nor was the idea or image developed. Russo merely introduced this image and then dropped.
What was beautiful about the evening was how the performers silently moved the audience members around. The Forge is a lovely building located on the east side of Los Angeles that has lofts and studios. For this performance, the event began outside in the narrow courtyard with a duet between dancers Christopher Bordenave and Joey Navarrete who soon led the audience inside a photographer’s studio. As the audience entered Charissa Kroeger was sitting on an ornate couch, dressed in all white and talking to herself in a mirror. Was this the ego or the idol? When she was ready to move into a different part of the studio, she silently led members of the audience to different places where they could stand or sit; making space for her to continue performing. She was then joined by Bordenave, Navarrete and Brenna Dwyer and the continuous shifting of audience and performance area began.
The opening and near the closing sections were the most interesting. Films by Steve Rosas were used in a very intriguing way. First, one of Charissa Kroeger was projected onto the photographer’s white wall as she moved slowly in front of it. Her film image was projected and moved about her torso, her palm and her forearm. Later it was Joey Navarrete dancing with his film image. What was different here, was that Navarrete sits down and watches himself on film. In both these sections I got the sense of the person and their inner self. With Navarrete he chose to sit down and watch his inner self/dancer rather than move along with it. He was disengaged from himself although other people appeared in the film to beckon him to join them.
There was a lot of material in between these two sections. Beautiful Contact Improvisation-like duets and trios mixed in with controlled out-of-control solos. Each dancer took turns engaging an audience member in a slow and silent duet; mainly making use of their arms and head. There was a disjointed dinner scene where a small table and two chairs were brought in. Navarrete unfolds and spreads out a checkered tablecloth and he is joined by Dwyer who is carrying a knife and a Cool Whip covered pie. There is a moment when we think that she is going to put the pie in Navarrete’s face, but in walks another dancer who shoves the pie in Dwyer’s face. Navarrete crawls across the table, and using the knife, eats the Cool Whip off of his dinner guest’s face. The table and chairs are taken away and this scene is dropped.
Near the end someone from the second floor begins to rain down green and red confetti; a lot of it. There was enough that some of us wore it home. The area, the dancers and some of the audience member were soon covered in colorful confetti. There’s a long solo by the beautiful Charissa Kroeger before the others join her to writhe and flail about on the floor in what seemed to be showing of martyrdom and/or total destruction of humanity. The piece ended with all four dancers lying prone and facing the same direction.
The evening was interesting and worth seeing, and I like the costumes by PHLEMUNS – created by James Flemons. I felt, however, that this very complex subject matter that Russo set about exploring would have been better served by a longer period of investigation with these dance artists. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the dance artists perform. Charissa Kroeger is stunning and Brenna Dwyer has a mysterious quality about her which is captivating. Christopher Bordenave has an intensity about him that draws one’s eye. Joey Navarrete is compact, fast and fearless, but he also somehow manages to pull your attention to him even when he is simply standing still.
Although I had serious reservations about Chiasm. Or, the body of two faces, I look forward to more performances by the artists at No)one. Art House.